Saturday, October 31, 2020

Lawn Care Tips During Drought and Water Restrictions

Christi Upton Contact infoWinter 2013-2014 took a toll on Southlake lawns.  The beautiful St. Augustine lawns that many residents have faced moderate to severe damage due to the plunging temperatures. As warmer temperatures returned and because of the occasional rainfall received, most of the lawns that sustained minor damage are recovering. 

So what about the lawns that were severely damaged? Is there hope for recovery? Our Environmental Coordinator, Christi Upton says, “Yes! There is.”

Lawns that were severely damaged WILL recover. However, the recovery will take a little longer and will require a little more TLC than the occasional rainfall will provide.

We asked Christi to provide residents with some tips that will help your lawn’s path to recovery and revitalization and to survive through drought conditions.

Amend Your Soil

Amending the soil, which is mixing materials into the soil, will improve water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots.

Amending the soil, even if the lawn is severely damaged, is always preferable to replacing your lawn. In fact, now is not the time to replace a lawn because of the persistent drought and City’s water restrictions. Lawn replacement requires too much water during a time when we have been asked to cut back on irrigation and to ensure we maintain the water supply for drinking, cooking, bathing, toilet flushing, firefighting and all the many other needs.  Amending the soil works well with the twice-a-week watering and provides plenty of water to help a severely damaged lawn recover.

Irrigation Evaluation

To keep lawns and landscapes looking good during drought and water restrictions, irrigation systems must work as efficiently as possible so all water applied will benefit the landscape. If your irrigation system is not working properly, no matter how much you water, the landscape suffers and water is wasted. The City of Southlake offers free irrigation evaluation to identify ways to increase irrigation efficiency from making repairs to setting the controller. Sign up for a free irrigation evaluation through the  WISE Guys.

Cycle and Soak Irrigation Method

Once your irrigation system is working efficiently, another water saving tip is to apply water in several short cycles instead of all at once. This method of irrigation is called cycle and soak. Most irrigation controllers have the ability to set the cycle and soak configuration.  To learn more about landscape watering and the cycle and soak method,  see the City’s Lawn Watering Tips webpage.

Judge Irrigation Requirements in the Morning

Pay close attention to how your lawn looks in the morning versus the afternoon versus the evening.  High afternoon summer temperatures cause plants to wilt, look off color, drop leaves and/or shrink even if there is significant moisture in the soil. Once the sun sets, the lawn and plants look normal. Irrigation will only be required if your lawn looks wilted and off color in the morning.  If in doubt, use a long screw driver to test for moisture in the soil. Push the screw driver into the soil (like a toothpick into a cake) to see how much moisture is in the soil. The screwdriver will push easily into moist soil and will not push easily into dry soil.

Mow Lawn Higher

Another water saving tip is to mow the lawn higher. Move the mower cutting height up one or two settings. The taller lawn shades the soil which reduces evaporation and encourages longer roots.

Mulch All Planted Areas

Mulch is like icing on a cake because mulch keeps the soil moist the same way icing keeps a cake moist. Mulch slows evaporation of water from the soil, allows water to infiltrate the soil efficiently; moderates the soil temperature; and breaks down into nutrients for the plants. Maintain a 2 to 4 inch mulch layer in all planted beds and containers.

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For more information about water saving practices, visit the  Water Conservation page on the City of Southlake website.

Or you can visit the Texas A&M AgriLife web site at http://dallas.tamu.edu for water conserving information.